Friday, July 13, 2007

Clay Shirky, environmentalism and freedom

Environmentalism is usually associated with a restriction on freedom. We need to re-frame the conversation. Because anti- environmentalism can take away basic freedoms ( freedom to breathe, etc).

Freedom has been characterized as a pseudo-religious justification in North Americ; the widespread adoption of Internet as a communication tool is one contemporary result. On a side note - Clay Shirky writes about the Internet and freedom:

"The best way to design a network is to allow the sender and receiver to decide what the data means, without asking the intervening network to interpret the data.” ...

What the internet is for, in other words, what made it worth adopting in a world already well provisioned with other networks, was that the sender and receiver didn’t have to ask for either help or permission before inventing a new kind of message. The core virtue of the internet was a huge increase in the technical freedom of all of its participating nodes, a freedom that has been translated into productive and intellectual freedoms for its users. As Scott Bradner put it, the Internet means you don’t have to convince anyone else that something is a good idea before trying it. The upshot is that the internet’s output is data, but its product is freedom."

The desire to protect the environment is not "just data" - the motive it not value-free. Which makes it uncomfortable for some people. So how do we get over the dip of discomfort.

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